William Harold Nelson Shakespeare
|Full name||William Harold Nelson Shakespeare|
24 August 1893|
|Died||10 July 1976
Whittington, Worcestershire, England
Source: CricketArchive, 19 May 2009
Wing Commander William Harold Nelson Shakespeare OBE MC AFC (24 August 1893 – 10 July 1976) was an English aviator who flew for the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force in World War I. He was awarded both the Air Force Cross and the Military Cross during his time in the military. Shakespeare later worked as a civilian pilot for Handley Page, captaining the first passenger flight from London to Athens, and eventually became president of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA). He also served as president of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, for which he had earlier played first-class cricket.
William Shakespeare was the eldest son of William and Barbara Shakespeare of Chadsworth, Barbourne, Worcester. He was educated at Worcester Royal Grammar School and joined the 1/8th Worcestershire Regiment (Territorial Force) at the commencement of World War I. He served with this unit at the front for over twelve months. He was given a commission and attached to the 6th Worcestershire Regiment, and afterwards transferred to the Royal Flying Corps .
As a pilot
As a pilot, in July 1918 Shakespeare won the Military Cross. His medal was awarded after he successfully carried out two patrols, one in "very bad weather" and one under intense fire. The citation praised him as "a gallant and determined pilot". A few months later, he gained the Air Force Cross.
"T./Capt. William Harold Nelson Shakespeare,R.F.C. was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He carried out a most successful contact patrol in very bad weather at a height of 400 feet and brought back very valuable information. Later, he carried out another successful contact patrol at a low altitude, his machine being subjected to intense rifle and machine-gun fire. He is a gallant and determined pilot and has set a fine example to his squadron." Supplement to the London Gazette. 5. July 1918.
He transferred across to the Royal Air Force when the organisation came into being on 01 Apr 1918, and was one of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Hugh Montague Trenchard's first Wing Commanders. After the First World War, he became one of the pioneers of military and civil transport aviation. While still serving in the RAF, his services were employed by Handley Page to promote their new commercial passenger service in the Handley Page 0.400 series, which after the end of the First World War, had been converted from a bomber to a passenger aircraft. He was the captain of the first pan European flight from London to Athens, a flight which took place to promote Handley Page and prove the capability of the Aircraft. While in Athens, he met and flew with the King of Greece who was also a keen aviator.
As a cricketer
Shakespeare played 26 first-class matches for Worcestershire between 1919 and 1931. He made his first-class debut in August 1919 against Warwickshire; this was a friendly match as Worcestershire did not enter the County Championship that season. Opening the batting with Alfred Cliff, he had a fine match, scoring 62 in the first innings and 67 not out (which was to remain his career best) in the second. He played one further match that year and three in 1920 but could not replicate his initial form, with a top score of only 11 in six innings.
In 1924, Shakespeare finally returned to first-class cricket, scoring 62* against Glamorgan, and this time — although he never made any really big scores — he contributed useful thirties and forties fairly often. From 1926 onwards, however, his powers left him and he passed 20 only once in his last 14 innings. His first-class career really ended in 1928, but he did make one final appearance three years later.
Although he never played at such a high level again, Shakespeare did appear for Worcestershire's second XI in the Minor Counties Championship as late as July 1949, when he was nearly 56. He also umpired one first-class game, that between Worcestershire and Combined Services at New Road in May 1950.
After the First World War, he became one of the pioneers of military and civil transport aviation. While still serving in the RAF his services were employed by Handley Page to promote their new commercial passenger service in the Handley Page 0.400 series, which after the end of the First World War, had been converted from a bomber to a passenger aircraft. He was the captain of the first pan European flight from London to Athens, a flight which took place to promote Handley Page and prove the capability of the aircraft. While in Athens, he met and flew with the King of Greece who was also a keen aviator.
Shakespeare, chairman of Worcestershire CCC, is credited with being responsible for bringing the talents of Imran Khan to the UK. Approaching Khan at the age of 18 prior to the Engalnd tour of Pakistan in 1971. Shakespeare arranged that Imran should attend Worcester Royal Grammar School as a boarder, where he would take his A-levels and try for Oxford or Cambridge. A year later, Imran was on his way to Keble College, Oxford. This Oxford experience may have possibly slowed Imran’s development as a cricketer, but he developed a broader perspective and gained experience of leadership. When he finally emerged as a top-ranking County and Test player, Imran was in his mid-twenties and was unusually well equipped as a human being for sport at the highest level.
His Great Grandson, Flt Lt Keith William Brooke (Will) followed in Wg Cdr W.H.N.Shakespeare's footsteps and graduated RAF Officer training at Royal Air Force Cranwell on 5 November 2009. Throughout the graduation ceremony, Flt Lt Brooke carried Wg Cdr Shakespeares Royal Flying Corps ceremonial sword, which was presented to him in 1914. He attended Branston School and Community College before joining the RAF in March 1997 as an Assistant Air Traffic Controller and became an Air Traffic Control Officer when he was promoted to Sergeant in 2003, serving at various UK units and overseas, including operations in Iraq, Turkey, Oman, Bahrain and Afghanistan, where he was awarded the US Joint Service Commendation Medal and continues his service in the Royal Air Force as a Flight Operations Officer, currently serving at HQ Air Command.
- "Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line].". Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
- "Berrow's Worcester Journal". pg. 7. 2 December 1916.
- "No. 30780". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 July 1918. p. 7923.
- "No. 30989". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 November 1918. p. 12958.
- "Warwickshire v Worcestershire in 1919". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
- His Wisden obituary wrongly states that 62* was his highest score.
- "First-class Batting and Fielding in Each Season by William Shakespeare". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
- "Glamorgan v Worcestershire in 1924". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
- "Derbyshire Second XI v Worcestershire Second XI in 1949". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
- "William Shakespeare as Umpire in First-Class Matches". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
- Obituary. Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 1976.
- Royal Air Force : "Great-Grandfather's (RFC) sword. - Monday 9 November 2009 : Excerpt from the London Gazette, July 1918." Retrieved 24 January 2010.